AQA Sociology Education


Role & Purpose - Functionalism

Durkheim: creating social solidarity

                   teaching specialist skills

Social solidarity - instills a sense of belonging to a wider society

Parsons: meritocracy

                 bridge between the family & wider society

                 universalistic standards

Meritocracy - everyone has an equal chance.

Universalistic standards - rules that apply to everyone.

Davis & Moore: role allocation

Role allocation - sorting people by their skills and match occupations

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Evalutation - Functionalist view

Not everyone shares the same values.

Education is ethnocentric - history classes paint the British in a good light and barely recognises other cultures.

Not everyone has the same opportunities to achieve (Marxism)

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Role & Purpose - Marxist View

Althusser: Education is an 'ideological state apparatus'

                   Legitimises inequalities through ruling class ideology.

Ideological State Apparatus - reproduces inequalities by transmitting from generation to generation

Boweles & Gintis: Correspondence Principle

                                Hidden Curriculum

                                Myth of Meritocracy

Correspondence Principle - the idea that the norms and values of pupils learn in school correspond to the norms and values in society an make it easier for future capitalist employers to exploit them.

Hidden Curriculum - things children at school learn that aren't on the National Curriculum, e.g. being punctual, doing as told, wearing uniform.

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Role & Purpose - Marxist View

Paul Willis: counter school sub-culture 

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Social Class Differences in Achievement (External

Bernstein: w/c use the restricted code and m/c use the elaborate code and this gives m/c children an advantage in school.

Sugarman: w/c subculture has four features that are a barrier to achievement:

1. Fatalism - a belief in fate (what will be will be)

2. Collectivism - valuing being part of a group more than succeeding individually

3. Immediate gratification - seeking pleasure now

4. Present-time orientation - present is more important than future.

Bourdieu: m/c children have 'cultural capital' which helps at school. Includes knowledge, attitudes and language.

Cultural capital - skills and knowledge which an individual can draw on them an advantage.

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Social Class Differences in Achievement (Internal

Rist: Studied American Kindergarten. Teacher labelled and grouped children, fast learner's were 'tigers' and mainly m/c. Treated them differently to 'clowns' who were mainly w/c.

Rosenthal & Jacobson: Tested pupils and told teachers they had identified 'spurters' (randomly chosen). They returned & tested pupils a year later; found that half has spurted. Concluded this was due to labelling a different treatment; this led to self-fulfilling prophecy.

Lacey: Found pupils in low streams (sets) lost self-esteem. Many formed anti-school subcultures to gain status among peers.

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Pupils' Class Identities

Archer: 'Nike Identities'. Many pupils were conscious that society and school looked down on them. This led them to seek alternative ways of creating self-worth, status and value. Did this by constructing meaningful class identities for themselves by investing in 'styles'- consuming clothing brands such as 'Nike'. Not conforming = social suicide. It conflicted with the school's dress code; teachers opposed 'street style' as a threat; people who adpoted street styles risked being labelled as rebels

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Ethnicity and Educational Achievement (External Fa

Moynihan: Black lone parent families suffer 'cultural deprivation' financially and because of a lack of a male role model. This makes them underachieve.

Driver & Ballard: Asian parents have positive attitudes to education and higher aspirations so Asian pupils will do well.

Flaherty: Pakistani's and Bangladeshi's three times more likely to be in poorest 20% of population and live in overcrowded households.

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Ethnicity and Educational Achievement (Internal Fa

Gilborn & Youdell: Raciallised expectations led teachers to label black children and discipline them more than others for the same behaviours.

Mirza: Racist teachers discouraged black pupils from being ambitious.

Sewell: Teachers stereotype black boys as rebellious, anti-authority and anti-school and therefore more likely to be excluded.

Troyna & Williams: Ethnocentric curriculum in British schools which prioritise white culture (Institutional Racism).

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Gender & Educational Achievement (External Factors

The main reason for girls rapid improvement in results is the impact of feminism, changes in the family, changes in women's employment, girls changing perceptions and ambitions.

Sharpe: Interviewed girls in the 70s and 90s. Found low aspirations in the 70s, priorities were marriage and husbands. In 90s, careers to support themselves were a priority. 

Francis: Boys have unreleastic career ambitions that are less likely to require academic success, e.g. pro footballer.

Mac & Ghaill: 'Crisis of masculinity' - traditional masculine roles are under threat and w/c boys perception of this may influence motivation and ambition.

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Gender & Educational Achievement (Internal Factors

Gorard: GCSE's and coursework introduced in 1988. This favoured girls who did better than boys.

Epstein: Laddish subcultures form because w/c boys who study are labelled as 'gay' because masculinity is associated with being tough and manual labour/work.

Byrne: Teachers encourage boys to be tough and girls to be quiet and helpful. This early socialisation shapes gender interests and 'gender domains'.

Boaler: Equal opportunities policies are key in girls improvements. GIST & WISE encourage girls to pursue careers in male dominated areas.

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Reasons for Gender Differences in Subject Choices

1. Early socialisation

2. Gendered subject images

3. Peer pressure.

4. Gendered career opportunities.

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Butler Act 1944

Tripartite System:

11+ exam decided which type of secondary school pupils would go to:

  • Grammar school (20%)
  • Technical (5%)
  • Secondary modern (75%)

The Impact:

Two thirds of grammar school places went to m/c children and 11+ test was biased in favour of m/c kids.

W/c kids that went to Seconday Modern schools were labelled as failures and lacked motivation to succeed.

Girls achieved higher so their pass rate was set higher as there were fewer girls grammar schools.

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Comprehensivisation 1965-1979


Abolish seclection at 11 and educate all children in one type of school regardless of class, gender, ethnicity or ability.

Selection now based on geography - children would now to their local school. The Labour government instructed all local authorities to reorganise schools to comprehensives. Sime grammar schools remained.

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Comprehensivisation 1965-1979


Catchment areas meant schools had little mixing of social classes and the 'better' schools were in m/c areas attended mainly by m/c children.

Tripartite system continued in some local authority areas.

Comprehensives organised their classes by ability using streaming, this led to the lower streams being dominated by w/c children so class inequalities remained.

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New Right Policies - 1979-1977

New Vocationalism:

The Conservatives blamed youth unemployment on the failure of schools to teach work skills. They introduced:

  • NVQ's - job specific qualifications studied part-time whilst working full-time.
  • GNVQs - studied in school as an alternative to academic qualifications.
  • Modern apprenticeships - combined training at work with college to gain NVQ.
  • Training schemes - combined work experience with education.
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New Right Policies - 1979-1977


  • Real purpose is to create good attitudes and work discipline so young people will come to accept a future of lo paid unskill work.
  • Perhaps there's a shortage of jobs; not skills.
  • Training schemes were often gender stereotyped with girls going into hair-dressing and beauty, and boys with construction - this is still the case today.
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Education Reform Act -1988

Marketisation of education included:

  • Testing - students sat SATs at 7, 11 and 14, along with new GCSE and A-Level.
  • League tables - test & exam results published in league tables and parents use these to make an informed choice of secondary school.
  • Formula funding - schools recieve an amount of funding per pupil.
  • National Curriculum - all schools would have to teach a range of subjects.
  • Opting out - Schools could now opt out of LEA control and decide how to manage their budgets.
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  • Concerns over damaging, stressful affects on testing children often, schools would now only teach to test.
  • Formula funding would leads to popular schools gaining more funds - can afford better teacher and facilities.
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New Right Influenced Policies

  • Specialist schools:

Schools could apply for a specialist status; this could gain extra government funding. Specialist schools can select 10% of students.

  • Work-related learning:

Allows schools and colleges more options in providing vocational education-facilitied by raising school leaving age to 18.

  • University fees:

Introduced and grants replaced with loans.

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Social Democratic Policies

Acadamies: to replace failing schools. This led to private businesses becoming involved in state eduaction.

Education Action Zones: more funding and support for schools in deprived areas.

Sure Start: wide range of educational and support services in disadvantaged areas.

EMA: availabl to 16-19 year olds in full-time education from families on low incomes to encourage young children to stay in education.

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New Labour 1997-2010


Focus on exam results and league tables when m/c have gained most from their policies.

Increase in univeristy entrants under New Labour, but more so m/c.

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Coalition Policies 2010-2015

  • English Baccalaureate:

Students to study English, Maths, Science, Humanities and MFL.

  • Pupils premium

Pupils qualifying as FSM, families gain extra funding to reduce inequalities.

  • Rise of university fees

More students live at home, poorer students need to work part-time, with larger debts to pay back.

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Conservative Policies 2015-present

Move to grammar schools (could it lead to a greater class divide?)

Pupil premium

Uncapped university fees (reduced uni entrants?)

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